The Canadiens took a step back in the standings, but took a giant step toward improving their chances in the draft lottery when they dropped a 6-3 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday night at the Bell Center.
It was the Canadiens’ seventh consecutive loss and it all but ensured they will finish with the worst record in the Eastern Conference. They fell eight points behind the 15th-place Flyers, who snapped a six-game losing streak. The Canadiens are still in a race to the bottom with the Arizona Coyotes, who remain last overall in the NHL with 50 points, one behind Montreal with a game in hand.
Montreal finally scored some goals for Carey Price, but the goaltender wasn’t at his best as he gave up six goals on 34 shots and fell to 0-3 on the season.
The Flyers took control of the game in the second period when they scored twice to open a 4-2 lead.
Jake Evans had pulled the Canadiens even at 2-2 when he redirected Jeff Petry’s shot from the blue line at 5:28 of the second period. It was Evans’s 12th goal of the season.
But it didn’t take long for the Flyers to regain the lead. Oskar Lindblom scored at 6:49 on a shot from the faceoff circle that should have been stopped by Price.
The goaltender didn’t have much of a chance on the fourth goal as Ronnie Attard threaded a pass through two defenders in the Canadiens zone and found Travis Konecny in full flight for his 15th goal.
Price wasn’t at his best as the Flyers scored twice on their first six shots on goal.
He has been one of the best in the league when it comes to handling the puck, but the rust might have been showing when James van Riemsdyk knocked the puck off Price’s stick as he played the puck behind the Canadiens net. Price scrambled back into the crease in time to stop a shot from van Riemsdyk, but he knocked home the rebound for his 22nd goal of the season.
The Flyers went up 2-0 when defenseman Ivan Provorov beat Price at 14:29. This was a shot Price had to stop, as he was beaten on a shot to the short side with nobody in front.
Between the two Philadelphia goals, the Flyers had a power play and the Canadiens missed a couple of opportunities while killing the penalty. They had at least two odd-man rushes that came up empty because the lead man elected to pass rather than put a shot on net.
The Canadiens got one goal back before the period ended when Mike Hoffman scored off a scramble in front. Martin Jones was sprawled in the crease searching for the loose puck when Brendan Gallagher sent a hand pass in front for Hoffman. The goal stood and was the 12th goal of the season for Hoffman who had fired 42 shots since his last goal from him on March 5.
Morgan Frost and van Riemsdyk added insurance goals late in the third, while Cole Caufield replied with his 19th.
Defenseman Alexander Romanov had a scare in the first period when he was struck in the face by the follow through of a shot by Attard. He went to the dressing room for repairs, but returned before the period was over.
The Canadiens are looking at back-to-back games on the weekend. They are in Ottawa Saturday and return to the Bell Center Sunday to play the Boston Bruins.
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